Even with a good bedtime routine, night time can still be a tricky, exhausting and anxiety-inducing time for families. Some children really struggle to get off to sleep and others can wake up throughout the night, meaning broken sleep for everyone.
There is a whole industry set up to help sleep-deprived parents with getting their children to sleep. Many of us will have tried night lights, cuddly toys, white noise or even weighted blankets or compression sheets to help with keep our kids in bed and asleep. Often, these substitutes don’t work and children feel the need to check in with, and be comforted by, their parent or carer.
Nightmares, bad dreams and waking in the night when it’s dark and quiet can all lead to a child feeling alone, scared, helpless and sometimes overwhelmed. For children who have experienced trauma the night time may take them back to feelings they want to avoid. Those feelings, like dreams and nightmares, are not just thoughts but bodily sensations that can cause children a lot of distress throughout the night and also throughout the day.
To support parents and carers who struggle with bedtimes, we enlisted the help of Faye Hatch, a hypnotherapist based in Sutton Coldfield and founder of Holistic Hatchlings. Faye works with adults and children to help them manage anxiety, stress, insomnia, as well as fears and phobias. In this article, Faye shares her insights and advice about how to set up an effective and relaxing bedtime routine that helps children feel safe, calm and able to sleep.
Visualisation and Meditation for Sleep
By Faye Hatch, Hypnotherapist, Mindfulness Practitioner and founder of Holistic Hatchlings
As adults, we know that when we are agitated, stressed or feeling anxious it’s difficult to get to sleep. The same is true for children. In order to get to sleep, we need to move from this heightened fight or flight state to feeling more relaxed, comfortable and safe. Visualisation, meditation and mindfulness techniques work by flooding the mind with positive messages to help us feel more calm and relaxed.
Once we begin to feel more relaxed and calm our parasympathetic nervous system is engaged, helping to reduce the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety and ‘turn off’ our sleep-inhibiting fight or flight response. In this relaxed, calm and safe state our minds are more receptive to positive, happy and safe thoughts about sleep. Over time — and with repetition — this can lead to positive changes in behaviour and beliefs regarding sleep for children and adults.
Recently I had the pleasure of creating the attached sleep recording for Beacon Family Services. The recording offers families a great tool to support children who may be suffering with sleep issues. Listening to the recording with your child as part of a positive bedtime routine will help children learn techniques which will sooth and relax them, distract them from any negative feelings they have about sleep and instigate positive beliefs and behaviours around sleep making them feel safe and secure throughout the night.
To support your child to get back to sleep by themselves if they wake in the night, you can talk about the things in their bed and in their room that make them feel cozy, warm, safe, comfortable and snuggly. Have them make a list, draw pictures or make a collage if they are not yet able to write. Hang this somewhere close by their bed as a reminder that if they do wake up, they have everything they need to get back to sleep on their own.
Routine and repetition are important, so don’t worry if this takes time. Make the recording part of the bedtime routine for your child. These techniques sometimes need practise but with repeat listening positive change can begin to take place.
Listen to the sleep meditation here.
Article written by Charlotte Jenkins and Faye Hatch
About Charlotte Jenkins and Beacon Family Services
Charlotte Jenkins is the founder and a director of Beacon Family Services. She is an experienced social worker supporting children and families therapeutically using Theraplay and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy.
If you are struggling with your child’s behaviour please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can support you and your family.
About Faye Hatch and Holistic Hatchlings
Faye Hatch is the founder of Holistic Hatchlings has been working as a hypnotherapist in Sutton Coldfield for over 7 years. Faye works with adults and children to make positive change on a range of issues such as anxiety, stress, insomnia, fears and phobias.
If you would more information about how hypnotherapy can help you or your family, please contact Faye Hatch at email@example.com.